Messages from the Bishop

COVID-19 Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry - UPDATED 3.24.21

COVID-19 Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry - UPDATED 3.24.21

3/24/2021
Yesterday, Tuesday, March 23rd, Governor Cooper issued an easing of Covid-19 restrictions. The Bishop and Cabinet remain committed to our biblical mandate to “love our neighbors as ourselves” and our Wesleyan call to “Do no harm. Do all the good we can. Follow the ordinances (stay in love) with God.” Using Governor Cooper’s Executive Order No. 204 as a guide, the Bishop and Cabinet make these specific recommendations for United Methodist Churches in the Western NC Conference.
Update to COVID-19 Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry

Update to COVID-19 Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry

2/26/2021
Yesterday, Governor Cooper issued an easing of Covid-19 restrictions. The Bishop and Cabinet remain committed to our biblical mandate to “love our neighbors as ourselves” and our Wesleyan call to “Do no harm. Do all the good we can. Follow the ordinances (stay in love) with God.” Using Governor Cooper’s Executive Order No. 195 as a guide, the Bishop and Cabinet make these updates to the WNCC
Bishops call Special Session of General Conference, issue timeline forward

Bishops call Special Session of General Conference, issue timeline forward

2/25/2021
In response to the further postponement of the 2020 General Conference, the Council of Bishops (COB) is calling a Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church (UMC) to be convened online on May 8, 2021.
Bishop Leeland extends Lenten invitation, word of appreciation for WNCC clergy

Bishop Leeland extends Lenten invitation, word of appreciation for WNCC clergy

2/11/2021
As we enter the Lenten season, beginning with next week’s Ash Wednesday observance, Bishop Leeland extends a Lenten invitation and word of appreciation to Western NC UMC clergy.
Covid-19 Update for Local Churches

Covid-19 Update for Local Churches

12/9/2020
The NC COVID-19 County Alert System gives individuals, businesses, community organizations, and public officials another tool to understand the community spread in their county and to make decisions about actions to slow the spread of the virus. The Bishop and Cabinet urge pastors and church leaders to use this system to monitor their county and to reconsider their decision to hold indoor worship, particularly if their county is “red." All local churches are asked to use extreme caution in response to the recent rapid spread of the virus. We thank the United Methodists across Western North Carolina for “loving their neighbor” by doing all that they can do to limit the spread of COVID-19.
A Video Message of Hope, Peace, and Thanksgiving from Bishop Leeland

A Video Message of Hope, Peace, and Thanksgiving from Bishop Leeland

11/23/2020
As we continue to face the fallout from a divided national election, racial injustice and tension, concerns about the differences within our denomination, and the global pandemic, Bishop Leeland brings a message of hope, peace, and thanksgiving.
*UPDATED* Phase Three Extension Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry During COVID-19

*UPDATED* Phase Three Extension Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry During COVID-19

11/20/2020
With Governor Cooper’s extension of Phase Three, along with the implementation of additional measures necessary to protect public health, the Bishop and Cabinet have also extended their Phase Three guidelines for WNC United Methodist Churches. Please note, while worship guidelines remain the same, all other indoor gathering should be limited to 10 persons or less. In additions, The Bishop and Cabinet urge pastors and church leaders to use the NCDHHS COVID-19 Alert system to monitor their county and to reconsider their decision to hold indoor worship, particularly if their county is “red."  All local churches are asked to use extreme caution in response to the recent rapid spread of the virus. We advise that all churches continue following CDC, state and local guidelines for indoor and outdoor gatherings, including handwashing, wearing masks, and observing physical distancing rules and group size limits.
Ordination service postponed until June 2021

Ordination service postponed until June 2021

10/7/2020
In an effort to “Do No Harm” as well as to ensure that the Ordering of Ministry Service be the high and holy moment that we all desire it to be, the Bishop and Extended Cabinet have made the difficult decision to cancel the service planned on October 11, 2020. Both the 2020 and 2021 classes will be commissioned and ordained next June at Lake Junaluska.
Phase Three Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry During COVID-19

Phase Three Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry During COVID-19

10/6/2020
As faithful disciples of Jesus Christ in the midst of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain committed to our Biblical mandate to "love our neighbors as ourselves" and our Wesleyan call to “do no harm.” In doing so, we seek ways to engage faithfully in worship, study, and ministry while ensuring the health and safety of our members and communities. We advise that all churches continue following CDC, state and local guidelines for indoor and outdoor gatherings, including handwashing, wearing masks, and observing physical distancing rules and group size limits.
Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry During COVID-19 - Updated 9/4/20

Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry During COVID-19 - Updated 9/4/20

9/8/2020
As faithful disciples of Jesus Christ in the midst of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain committed to our Biblical mandate to "love our neighbors as ourselves" and our Wesleyan call to “do no harm.” In doing so, we seek ways to engage faithfully in worship, study, and ministry while ensuring the health and safety of our members and communities. We advise that all churches continue following CDC, state and local guidelines for indoor and outdoor gatherings, including handwashing, wearing masks, and observing physical distancing rules and group size limits.
A Message of Encouragement from Bishop Leeland

A Message of Encouragement from Bishop Leeland

8/26/2020
Bishop Leeland shares a message of encouragement with our pastors and lay leaders, as students return to school in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Plans Move Forward to Hold Annual Conference Virtually on August 8

Plans Move Forward to Hold Annual Conference Virtually on August 8

7/1/2020
Given the current challenges of meeting in-person and keeping our constituencies safe in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we realize it is no longer feasible to gather 3,000 people in the same location. Therefore, Bishop Leeland, the Cabinet, and Conference Secretary, Rev. Kim Ingram, propose a virtual meeting on August 8, 2020. Lay and clergy delegates to the 2020 Annual Conference will receive a paper ballot in the mail to approve moving Annual Conference to a virtual platform this year. Please return this ballot by July 15.
Updated Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry During COVID-19

Updated Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry During COVID-19

6/25/2020
As faithful disciples of Jesus Christ in the midst of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain committed to our Biblical mandate to "love our neighbors as ourselves" and our Wesleyan call to “do no harm.” In doing so, we seek ways to engage faithfully in worship, study, and ministry while ensuring the health and safety of our members and communities. We do not recommend returning to indoor worship at this time. Continue hosting online, drive-in, or outdoor worship services while following CDC, state and local guidelines, including handwashing, wearing masks, and observing physical distancing rules.
Updated Worship Guidelines To Be Released Following Governor’s Address

Updated Worship Guidelines To Be Released Following Governor’s Address

6/24/2020
The Phase 2 Worship Guidelines remain in effect until at least June 30th. Bishop Leeland and the Cabinet will renew or update the guidelines following the release of Governor Cooper's updated statewide guidelines this week. Any extension of Phase 2 or updates to Phase 3 will be communicated as soon as possible through email, at wnccumc.org, and on all WNCC social media platforms. Please continue to be mindful of our scriptural and Wesleyan call to "love others" and “do no harm.”
Pentecost in a Time of Pandemonium

Pentecost in a Time of Pandemonium

5/28/2020
May 28, 2020 The past two days have reminded us of the chaos, hurt, distrust, and anger, that emerges all too frequently in our communities. The news of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis has shocked and awakened us once again to the injustice still present in our world. My thoughts are focused on the family and friends who are grieving and all who are impacted by the traumatic effects of racism and violence.  The Church has consistently denounced racial discrimination and violence. As United...
Phase Two Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry During COVID-19

Phase Two Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry During COVID-19

5/21/2020
As the state of North Carolina prepares to enter Phase Two, the Cabinet has updated our Conference Guidelines for In-Person Worship and Ministry During COVID-19. These will be effective Saturday May 23, 2020 and will remain in effect until at least June 30, 2020. In alignment and compliance with public health guidance, governmental mandates, and our scriptural and Wesleyan call to "love others" and “do no harm,” these guidelines are to be followed by churches in the Western North Carolina Conference. We have also prepared a Frequently Asked Questions to help you navigate ministry concerns at this time.
WNCC Guidelines for Phase 1

WNCC Guidelines for Phase 1

5/7/2020
UPDATED May 21, 2020: Phase One guidelines are no longer in effect. Please find the Phase Two guidelines and FAQs here. Phase Two is effective starting Saturday, May 23, 2020 and will remain in effect until at least June 30, 2020. ------- Greetings, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ:   We give thanks for the many ways that you have continued to be the body of Christ during this pandemic. Your innovation and creativity are to be applauded. As a state, we are...
Gratitude and Next Steps from Bishop Leeland

Gratitude and Next Steps from Bishop Leeland

5/4/2020
May 4, 2020 As congregations, laity, and clergy, continue to deliver exceptional ministry to our communities, we have been inspired by the gracious spirit pervading our entire annual conference. Many churches have given careful thought to sharing worship online, expressing the faith of Jesus through hymns, music, scripture, and inspirational messages. Our communities have witnessed the kindness and compassion of the church through food and clothing initiatives. It has been inspirational and ...
Update on Annual Conference 2020

Update on Annual Conference 2020

4/30/2020
UPDATE: For the most current information and news on Annual Conference, please visit www.wnccumc.org/ac2020 for information about the August 8 virtual session. April 30, 2020 Bishop Leeland and the Cabinet have made the decision to postpone the Western North Carolina Annual Conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of our traditional three-day event, the decision has been made to hold a one-day Annual Conference session on the afternoon of Saturday, August 8 at Lake Junaluska. The Ordering of Ministry Service where persons will be ordained, commissioned, and licensed for ministry will be held on Saturday, Aug. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Stuart Auditorium at Lake Junaluska.
From the WNC Cabinet: Considerations Before Reopening

From the WNC Cabinet: Considerations Before Reopening

4/23/2020
As we hear the announcements that our nation and state are going to slowly reopen, the Bishop and the Cabinet of the Western North Carolina Conference encourage all local churches to continue to follow the guidelines of the CDC as well as state and local officials regarding the resumption of in-person worship. Please continue to guide all your decisions by Jesus’ command to “love one another.”  COVID-19 has not been eradicated, and thus we continue to need to protect the most vulnerable among us. The following are 24 questions to consider as you make plans for persons to return to your church building and activities.  These have been adapted from the blog by Ken Braddy, “24 Questions Your Church Should Answer Before People Return.”
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